The Ferrara Candy Company (Ferrara) is an American candy manufacturer owned by the Ferrero Group. Ferrara — well known for candy brands such as Laffy Taffy, SweeTarts, and Nerds — has achieved enormous commercial success throughout the United States.
On May 31, 2022, Ferrara filed a lawsuit in federal court in Colorado against a cannabis edibles maker on the grounds of trademark infringement. Trademark infringement occurs when a party violates the exclusive rights of a trademark owner, without authorization or license.
On March 20, 2023, the federal judge found that the cannabis company illegally copies the logos, names, and packaging of Nerds, Trolli, and Runts candy for its THC-infused products. Ferrara never authorized the use of its logos and trademarks for cannabis products. The products appear to have a significant amount of THC, with some containing as much as 600 milligrams, which is more than 60 adult servings. The THC-infused products thus pose a public health hazard – especially to children — who are easily susceptible to believing that the cannabis products are ordinary candy. As a result, the court determined that injunctive relief is appropriate and ordered the cannabis company to:
- stop producing and selling cannabis products that infringe the Ferrara candy brands;
- destroy any remaining products infringing Ferrara’s brands; and
- pay Ferrara all profits derived from the acts of trademark infringement.
Ferrara takes a serious approach to such cannabis products in order to protect consumers. In addition to this judgment and injunction in Colorado, Ferrara has also successfully enjoined cannabis companies from selling THC-infused knockoff versions of its signature candy products in California, Florida, and Illinois. Shortly after these proceedings commenced, the attorneys general of New York and Connecticut issued warnings about designing the packaging of cannabis products to look like well-known candy or snacks, both citing a nationwide rise in accidental overdoses among children.
While the desire to appeal to consumers is understandable, it is unlawful to profit off another’s registered trademark. Manufacturing and marketing cannabis products that copy well-known consumer brands and packaging opens the door to litigation that in turn poses huge legal, financial, and reputational risks. Trademark infringement is a serious legal matter that, as illustrated above, will likely result in unfavorable consequences to violators. Cannabis companies should act with caution when adopting and commercializing brands, to avoid creating the potential for consumer confusion between their THC-infused products and the products of already established mainstream brands. This is particularly true when the established mainstream brands are used for candy or other products appealing to children.
Read the full text of the article on Law360.